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online business reviews
Did you know, according to a 2015 study by Bright Local, an astounding 92% of consumers rely on online business reviews before making a purchase decision! This figure is 4 points higher than 2014 and rises every year. It has now become a factor in your small business that you simply can’t ignore.

The days of relying on word of mouth from close friends or family is over. With widely accessible and known websites for consumer reviews, you can guarantee that if a customer has a bad experience with your product or service, they’ll want the world to know about it. Thankfully though, if they have an exceptional experience they are just as inclined to share that as well.

In another interesting statistic of this study, 44% of reviewers rely on ratings that are less than a month old to be relevant. This is great news if you may have had a rocky past with business reviews but are now on the path of many satisfied customers. Or perhaps you are in the middle of lower-starred reviews for your business right now. What improvements can you make that will give your customers a better experience, and in turn, better reviews. With nearly half of consumers only looking at the past month, you could potentially see leaps in your business profits in just a short span.

If you are running a hotel or restaurant, consumers know that the quality of the food, quality of the room furnishings, or the overall experience can change quickly, both for the worse or the better. If you manufacture a product, changes in material or production can also change what the consumer holds in their hands, so quality control is essential to keep those 5-star ratings boosting your reputation.

To understand the importance of positive online business reviews, you don’t have to look any further than your own behavior. When you are looking in to a purchase, looking to book a trip or eat at a restaurant, how much do you rely on review sites like Yelp, Amazon, Google+, Facebook, Trip Advisor, or the myriad of other choices? Your customers are doing the same thing before they spend their hard-earned money with you.

So what can you do to monitor business reviews and make sure your business has a good healthy online image?

    1. Make sure you claim your business pages. All of the popular online review sites have a business section where you can claim your business. Once registered, you can respond to reviews, view stats on searches, and add detailed information about your business. You’ll even receive notifications on low reviews so you can respond in a timely fashion. Speaking of which…
    2. Respond to negativity with solutions/apologies. Everyone knows that the customer is always right, right? Well, that may be the case but that doesn’t mean you won’t disagree with some reviews. Even if you feel a customer is wrong and left a negative review, it is wise to respond with an apology and also state that you will make sure it won’t be a problem for future guests/customers. If you respond with anger towards the reviewer, just think of how this will look to potential customers reading that review and response.
    3. Give some love to the positive reviews too. Don’t just respond to 1-star reviews, comment on 4/5-star ones as well. Nothing can create a repeat customer faster than a business owner who shows they appreciate the reviewer as a customer, possibly creating loyalty for life if you keep up the good service with them.
    4. Improve your business/product with negative or low-star reviews. Don’t be offended by low business reviews, instead look at them as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Have multiple reviews of food arriving to the table cold? Perhaps it’s a timing issue between the kitchen prep and servers. Or maybe you need some hotter warming lights? Have a review that the hotel towels are scratchy? Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade to the linens? How about a product that routinely arrives damaged? Maybe the product packaging isn’t doing it’s job? No matter what the review, be sure to look at it objectively and note patterns in the reviews. These are your areas for improvement, delivered right from your customer’s keyboards. No one will be more honest than a relatively anonymous reviewer.

If you need financial help in improving your business, give Blue Bridge a call. We love our small business borrowers and take pride in helping you succeed! A small business loan is only a quick application away!

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